I do not think coding is the new literacy. I think coding is an incredibly useful skill to have, and I think computational thinking is important to learn, but I do not see if being a necessary subject in all schools, at least in the academic set up we have currently. If computer science becomes a mandatory class I think we will have to rethink our entire education system, and what we view as “mandatory.” I do not think that computational thinking is more important than creative thinking, and we live in a world right now where funding for creative classes is being cut. I do, however, believe that computer science classes, or other classes that promote computational thinking, should be made more accessible to all students, and that we should make it a more desirable class to take than it is currently being sold as.
In my high school, most people did not even know we offered a computer science class. The class was taken by a few guys who were already fairly familiar with computers, in a hidden computer lab, and it did not count for anything more than an elective. With all of the mandatory classes I had to take to graduate along with classes I was “encouraged” to take in order to get into the colleges I wanted, I had no time for an extra elective that would not count towards a specific requirement. I understand that all schools and states have different requirements and different amounts of classes you can take, but in my instance there simply would not have been time for me to take that class. By allowing students to take the class to count towards a requirement, or making the class a more welcoming environment for all students (despite gender, race, clique, or familiarity with the topic), we can at least make computer science a more accessible skill to learn for those who may be interested.
One way computer science could become more accessible or attractive is including it as a part of the already required computer classes in elementary school. I was required to take a computer class in from K-8. We learned how to type, use word, powerpoint, excel, google efficiently, and spent a lot of time in Microsoft paint and “Kid pix.” Now kids are exposed to more technology, and it may be worth teaching them some basic computational thinking or coding techniques at that young age. Then the kids can decide for themselves if that is a skill they would like to enhance and continue taking classes in, just like the do with art, music, gym, etc. I think computational thinking is important to learn young, like creative thinking, but not everyone is meant to love to code, just how not everyone loves playing an instrument or creating artistic masterpieces.
I have a math mind, thats why I majored in it. I think about things logically and developed computational thinking in my advanced math and science classes I took. So in my head, it feels like everyone could learn to program. But then I think about my sister who has an incredibly artistic mind. She hated math and loved art. That is why she pursued an art degree. I think if someone tried to teach her how to code she could catch on to certain things because she is a very smart person, but I don’t think she would enjoy it the same way I do. Her and I have gone to painting classes together and I get frustrated at times because it comes so naturally to her, and mine looks slightly better than the elementary schoolers she teaches. I think everyone has their skills, and their passions and they should be free to explore those. This is something that is wrong with our educational system as a whole right now. Everyone can learn math, they can learn to read, they can learn to draw, and they can learn to code. But not everyone is good at all those things, and not everyone is passionate about all those things.